Media watchdog group Common Sense Media says parents believe that violent videogames are as much of a contributing factor to real-life violence as easy access to guns.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the Common Sense Media group, perhaps best known to gamers for its enthusiastic support for California's failed effort to legislate the sale of violent videogames to minors, commissioned a study into what parents believe are contributing factors to violence in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, a full three-quarters of the 1050 respondents said that violent videogames contribute to real world violence, putting them neck-and-neck with easy access to guns; what is a bit surprising is that both videogames and guns rank lower than just about everything else on the list.
The highest-rated contributing factor to real-world violence, cited by 93 percent of the survey respondents, is a lack of parental supervision, followed by bullying, which was cited by 92 percent. Real-life crime was listed by 86 percent of parents, followed by violence in television and movies, which came in at 77 percent. The only contributing factor ranked lower than games and guns were "violent toys," which were listed by 64 percent of respondents.
Also interesting is that after seeing video of both, 84 percent of parents said that an advertisement for the M-rated game Hitman: Absolution "is inappropriate to show on TV at a time when children are watching," while only 63 percent said the same thing about the R-rated movie Gangster Squad. 88 percent of respondents said they wanted television networks and the videogame industry to adopt policies similar to those that prevent ads for alcohol being aired "during programs viewed by large numbers of children."
In a letter to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James P. Steyer called for a "voluntary moratorium" on ads for violent games and movies when children are likely to be watching, more prominent displays of ratings for games, movies and television and a restriction on preview trailers in theaters that would limit them to the same rating as the movie being shown. But he also made a rather baffling allusion to a connection between the gun and videogame industries, writing, "Common Sense Media recommends that the FTC require the gun industry to explicitly and transparently reveal all product placements and other marketing practices and tie-ins with the videogame industry."
The full results of the latest Common Sense Media market research study are available at commonsensemedia.org.